Katherine Palmer Kaup

Katherine "Kate" Kaup 白荷婷

James B. Duke Professor of Asian Studies and Politics and International Affairs

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Katherine “Kate” Palmer Kaup’s (白荷婷) research focuses on ethnic minorities, rule of law, and human rights developments in China. In her most recent publication “Controlling Law: Legal Developments in China’s Southwest Minority Regions,” in The China Quarterly she examines how conflicts between customary minority law and state law are resolved. She is the author of Creating the Zhuang: Ethnic Politics in China, several articles and chapters on ethnic minorities, and editor and contributor to the textbook Understanding Contemporary Asia (2nd edition 2021).  She is a National Committee on United States China Relations (NCUSCR) Public Intellectual Fellow and serves on the NCUSCR Board of Directors. Kaup has served as special adviser for Minority Nationalities Affairs at the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Chair of Furman’s Asian Studies Department and of the Furman Faculty, Director of the Riley Institute’s China Programs, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Yunnan Nationalities University, Visiting Scholar at the Guangxi Ethnic Affairs Commission, and PI/Program Director for several federally-funded Chinese language programs and for the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment. She regularly leads groups to China, including student/faculty/alumni/government groups.


  • Distinguished Visiting Professor, Yunnan Nationalities University 2012-13
  • James B. Duke Chair of Asian Studies and Political Science, lifetime appointment awarded 2010
  • Public Intellectuals Fellow: National Committee on United States-China Relations, 2008-2011
  • Gordon White Award: China Quarterly, 2002.


  • Ph.D., University of Virginia 1997
  • M.A., University of Virginia 1990
  • B.A., Princeton University 1989

Experience in Asia

Selected Experiences in Asia

  • Princeton-in-Asia Fellow, Beijing 1990-91
  • IUP Chinese Language Studies in Taipei 1992-93
  • Visiting Scholar at the Yunnan Nationalities University 1995, 1999, 2012-13
  • Visiting Scholar at Guangxi Ethnic Affairs Commission 1995, 1999
  • Academic Travel Abroad Program Director for China, Japan, and Vietnam 1996-7
  • American Museum of Natural History Study Leader 1998
  • Fall in China Director at East China Normal University 1999, 2001
  • Fall in China Director at Soochow University 2009
  • Summer China Experience Director 2008, 2012, 2014
  • First Year China Experience 2017, 2018, 2019
  • China In Depth Alumni/Furman Friends Tours to China 2010, 2017
  • Congressional Staff Delegation Scholar Escort 2008, 2018
  • National Committee on United States-China Relations Public Intellectuals Fellow Tour 2009
  • Young Scholars and Experts Taiwan Tour Hosted by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2010
  • Co-director India Study Away Program 2011
  • LIASE Faculty Development Study Tour Director, China 2016, 2019


  • “Controlling the Law: Legal Pluralism in China’s Southwest Minority Regions,” China Quarterly (December 2018)
  • “Ethnic Studies Beyond Tibet and Xinjiang,” in Weijing Wu and Mark W. Frazier (eds), Sage Handbook of Contemporary China (Sage, 2018), pp. 760-778. 8,361 words.
  • “Field Research: Navigating Politically Sensitive Field Research in China,” in Akan Malici and Liz Smith (eds). Political Science Research in Practice. 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2018).
  • Understanding Contemporary Asia Pacific (editor and contributor) (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007 and 2021, 2nd edition). Also published in Korean
  • Creating the Zhuang: Ethnic Politics in China (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000); 建构壮族:中国的少数民族政策和他的影响 [translation by the Yunnan Zhuang Studies Association of Creating the Zhuang: Ethnic Politics in China, forthcoming];
  • "Tensions and Violence in China's Minority Regions," in China Beyond the Headlines, Volume 3 Lionel Jenson and Timothy Westin (eds.) (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2012)
  • "Field Research," in Doing Political Science Research, Liz Smith and Akan Malici (eds) (Routledge, 2012)
  • Human Rights in Xinjiang: Recent Developments (Washington: Congressional-Executive Commission on China), expert witness for Congressional Staff Roundtable on February 13, 2009
  • "Chapter 1: Introduction" and "Chapter 4: Politics in the Asia Pacific" and "Chapter 10: Ethnicity," in Understanding the Contemporary Asia Pacific (editor and contributor) (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007)
  • "Special Focus 2005: China's Minorities and Government Implementation of Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law," and "North Korean Refugees in China," (lead author) Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2005 Annual Report
  • "Regionalism versus Ethnicnationalism in the People's Republic of China" China Quarterly (December 2002)
  • Winner 2002 Gordon White Award); "China: Ethnic Conflict in the World's Largest Multinational State," in Joseph Rudolph (ed) Encyclopedia of Modern Ethnic Conflict (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2003).

Additional Professional Activities

Professional Service

  • National Committee on US-China Relations, Board of Director (2018-present)
  • American Political Science Association China Mini-Conference Organizing Committee Chair, 2020
  • World Affairs Council of the Upstate Programs Board member, 2017-2019
  • Cura Foundation co-founder and Board Member, 2016-2019
  • Reviewer: The China Journal, China Quarterly, Journal of Chinese Political Science, Comparative Politics, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Oxford University Press, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Politics, Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law